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Home > Horses > 17 British Horse Breeds (With Pictures)

17 British Horse Breeds (With Pictures)

dales pony

The British do not settle for mediocrity when it comes to horse breeding. They are known for rearing several beautiful breeds of ponies and horses. In fact, some of the smallest ponies and the largest horses in the world originated from Great Britain. If you are curious about the types of horses that the British breed and raise, you have come to the right place!

Here are 17 British horse breeds that you need to know about.


The 17 British Horse Breeds

1. The Cleveland Bay Horse

cleaveland bay horse
Image Credit: Khort Esther Tatiana, Shutterstock

This is one of the oldest horse breeds from England. Their name comes from the location that they hail from, Cleveland (Yorkshire), and the color of their coat, bay. They are well known for pulling carriages and heading up processions for the Royal Family. These horses are docile, intelligent, and easy to get along with. They weigh about 1,400 pounds when fully grown. This is a robust breed that is not known to succumb to diseases that are common in the equine world.

2. The British Spotted Pony

The British Spotted Pony is a rare breed that has leopard-like spots and bold, sophisticated eyes that show their intelligence. These small ponies only weigh about 550 pounds as adults, and they are fast on their feet. These ponies are raised to drive wagons, to ride, to show, and simply to enjoy. They tend to be especially fond of children.

3. The Exmoor Pony

exmoor pony
Image Credit: nigel baker photography, Shutterstock

The Exmoor Pony hails from the British Isles, where they still roam free in the area. They are considered endangered and have adapted to cold weather and rough terrain. Due to their hardy builds and determined mindsets, these ponies can pull an impressive amount of weight on their backs or behind them.

4. The Clydesdale Horse

Clydesdale horse during winter
Image Credit: OlesyaNickolaeva, Shutterstock

This is a draught horse, designed and bred for pulling heavy loads of lumber and other goods from place to place. Originally, they carried coal to Lanarkshire and goods to other places such as Glasgow. Today, they are widely known for pulling carriages, and they have been featured in popular television spots, such as Budweiser commercials.

5. The Dartmoor Pony

Dartmoor Pony running
Image Credit: Nicole Ciscato, Shutterstock

This pony comes from Dartmoor, England, and has been a popular breed in the area for centuries. The Dartmoor Pony has tons of stamina because they have lived their lives in harsh climates and on dangerous terrains. These are highly muscled horses that do well in the show ring and offer an impressive ride for novice and experienced riders alike.

6. The Lundy Pony

Named after the Isle of Lundy, this pony was bred into existence by the final owner of the place before it was sold to a national trust. Once the island was sold, the National Pony Society stepped in to care for the ponies on the island. Eventually, the ponies were moved to Cornwall and have been bred and raised there ever since.

7. The Dales Pony

Dales pony on the hill
Image Credit: Algirdas Gelazius, Shutterstock

The Dales Pony is native to the mountainous regions of the United Kingdom. They may have bay, brown, grey, roan, or black coats. Originally, they worked as lead miners in Yorkshire. Nowadays, their gentle dispositions make them awesome ponies to work with inside the show ring, and their brute strength and stamina make them excellent farm workers and travelers.

8. The Hackney Horse

hackney pony
Image Credit: aleigha blakley, Shutterstock

These horses have recently landed on the list of endangered species, but many breeders are dedicated to maintaining their existence and legacy. The Hackney Horse is unique in that they raise their knees extremely high with each step they take. They hold their heads high and proud and their ears erect and alert. These horses are popular carriage drivers and show animals.

9. The Norfolk Trotter Horse

Also referred to as the Norfolk Roadster, the Norfolk Trotter first came about in Norfolk, England, because King Henry VIII required wealthy members of the community to raise stallions with enhanced trotting skills. Once established, these horses were the most common animals used for travel throughout England. Sadly, this breed is now extinct.

10. The New Forest Pony

New Forest Pony
Image Credit: Ian Rentoul, Shutterstock

These gorgeous ponies have coats of grey, chestnut, or bay hair and blonde manes that create a breathtaking contrast that is hard to overlook. They hail from southern England, and testing shows that they share DNA with ancient horse breeds that lived well before the last Ice Age. Today, these ponies roam freely in New Forest, England, where people work together to care for them.

11. The Shire Horse

Shire horse galloping
Image Credit: horsemen, Shutterstock

Recognized as the tallest horse worldwide, this breed is large all around and can weigh up to a massive 2,400 pounds during adulthood. These horses may look huge, but their hearts are soft, and they are typically thought of as gentle giants by those who spend time with them. Most Shire horses live in the British Shires, but some were exported to the United States in the mid-1800s for breeding with smaller farm horses throughout the country.

12. The Old English Black Horse

This is another extinct horse breed that was developed by breeding great horses that were exported from Europe with mares that were native to Britain. Their coats were typically dark in color, and they had feathering above their hooves. Their bloodline was passed on to other notable breeds, such as the Shire and the Clydesdale.

13. The Welara Horse

This horse breed is the result of crossing a Welsh Pony and an Arabian Horse together. These two parent breeds were imported to England and used to develop the Welara Horse during the 1900s. Eventually, these horses were brought to the United States, where they are primarily used for English riding, jumping, and showing.

14. The Suffolk Punch Horse

Suffolk Punch horse trotting up
Image Credit: nigel baker photography, Shutterstock

These energetic horses are full of personality and curiosity. They have a quick gait that makes them fun to ride, and their ability to quickly learn makes them a joy to train in the show ring. They are also excellent workers and can haul heavy loads of lumber and other goods for long distances. They were put on the critically endangered list at one point, but renewed interest in the breed has resulted in increased numbers.

15. The England Thoroughbred Horse

England Thoroughbred horses
Image Credit: PJ-photography, Shutterstock

This breed is the most popular type of racehorse in the world. First developed in England for running and jumping, these horses have been exported worldwide, where they are bred and raised to race against each other on the track. Many Thoroughbreds are also used for activities such as fox hunting and polo playing.

16. The Yorkshire Coach Horse

Two Yorkshire coach horses grazing on a hill
Image Credit: Daniel J. Rao, Shutterstock

These dark-coated horses were once popular carriage horses in England but are no longer in existence today. They were considered elegant due to their slow gait and confident stature, which made them popular among royal and other notable residents throughout the Yorkshire area. They were exported in pairs to supply carriage pulling demands that became abundant throughout the world in the 18th century.

17. The Shetland Pony

Shetland Pony in the field
Image Credit: Graham Kemp, Pixabay

Shetland Ponies were originally developed in Scotland to pull coal and peat moss in carts and to help ready farmland for planting. They have thick coats to keep them warm in cold climates and muscular bodies to help them traverse the harsh lands of the Shetland Isles, where they originated from.  Nowadays, they are commonly bred for showing and are popular among children who enjoy riding.


Final Thoughts

The British are responsible for having developed an impressive list of horse breeds throughout the centuries. We have only skimmed the surface, but hopefully, we have provided you with enough information to get acquainted with each British horse breed on our list. Which of the breeds on our list are your favorites, and why? Let us know what you think by leaving us a comment.

Featured Image Credit: nigel baker photography, Shutterstock

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